Chapter 11 marks the beginning of reading from the back of the scroll so to speak. An overlapping time period is introduced here which will reoccur variously for a while on the path ahead. The angle from which the story is now being told (in chs. 10 & 11) has shifted from the imperial version of the Roman beast, and its attempts to destroy the Jesus people, to the religious version of the Roman beast and its equally ferocious genocides.
If you are unfamiliar with the ‘year for a day principle’ of Bible prophecy and if you do not instantly recognise the date 1517 as being one of the most pivotal dates of Church history then you are going to need to work a little bit to keep on track in this chapter. In the year AD 254 a declaration was made that the then ‘Bishop of Rome’ was to be recognised by all the churches as “the successor of St Peter,” you might say, the first ‘pope’ although I believe that title came later. If you add 1260 years to this date you come to AD 1514 where at a pivotal ‘Church’ (so called) council a declaration was made that, “all heretics have now been extinguished.” ‘Heretic’ is the word the papacy used to describe Christ loving, Bible believing peoples who would not bow their knee to papal authority. During the course of 1260 years the papacy had tried everything in its power to cleanse the earth from these vile creatures and in May 1514 they declared, “we’ve done it!” With partying and gift-giving the prelates of Rome celebrated the death of the two witnesses (branches of the unsubmitted churches across Europe). In October 1517 – three and a half years later (note the day/year scale again), the ‘witnesses’ were figuratively ‘resurrected’ – in the form of Martin Luther and many others and the full blown earthquake of the Reformation had begun.
The ‘temple’ (GK. NAOS – same as 2 Thes 2:4) being measured is the temple of God, i.e. the Church. The divine measuring rod is the now freely available Word of God. Part of the temple is holy and part of it is corrupt. In the last chapter we started to see the dawn of the Reformation. Here it continues and God is making the distinction between His true Church and the false, apostate ‘Church’. Separation and a call to separation is a key message of the book. By this, I do not mean simply that God wants His people to just leave Catholicism and become ‘Protestants’. Sadly, much of the Protestant Church never wholly left the spirit of Rome behind – you can take a people out of the beast but that does not automatically take the beast out the people.
Prior to this Reformation earthquake God still had His witnesses in the earth (the Roman ‘earth remember’). Some individuals and many pockets of believers scattered down the centuries and across Europe. Particularly in the more remote and mountainous regions. Historicists often identify two particular strands of the pre-protestant protesting Church (my contorted phrase!) – the Waldenses and the Albigenses. Any proper Church history book will highlight the significance of these, among other, groups of peoples who maintained a testimony of the pure Gospel and lived their lives, as it were, in constant sackcloth and ashes as they were hounded by the Church authorities over time and across European lands. Other commentators have suggested that the Old and the New Testaments are the two witnesses or similarly the Word of God and the people of God.
I have used the 254-1514 period above for simplicity and because it is the first such period. However, many other 1260 periods have been noted. Each marking some significant accretion leading to some other significant abatement 1260 years later. It is my belief that all of these 1260 periods are significant. 1260 is like 666 – it is a number that God has stamped upon the papal beast. It may occur and reoccur in multiple ways.
*“The Donation of Pepin in 756 provided a legal basis for the creation of the Papal States, thus extending the temporal rule of the Popes beyond the duchy of Rome”.
(quotation from Wikipedia)
Citing Brexit as part of this long-running saga of prophecy necessarily implies that it is my understanding that the EU is the current day form of the papal Roman beast. It is not within the scope of this simple overview to examine this but it will not be very hard for the diligent enquirer to find all of the information that connects the dots of the Roman Catholic Church with the founding of the EU. It is of no coincidence at all that 2016 also saw the election of Donald J Trump to the presidency of the USA – connecting the dots of his presidential tenure to the further exposure and demise of the papacy may need a little more investigation or perhaps there are some things to transpire shortly that will make this more obvious!
Many people are familiar with the beautiful bible poetry which states that, ‘a day is as a thousand years’ (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8). Perhaps there is more to these statements than just pure poetry but these specific quotations are not our exact topic right now. But also found Scripture is a principle concerning God’s dealings with man whereby He appoints, specifically and prophetically, a ‘day’ to represent a single ‘year’. There are at least two unambiguous occasions where this is stated and at least one instance that, whilst not plainly stated, ALL major schools of interpretation agree that this principle must be applied in order for it to make any sense. Let’s take a look at them…
Let’s not get sidetracked with this unusual prophetic sign acted out by Ezekiel but simply note again that God used the plainly stated principle of each day representing each year of iniquity.
The above two Scriptures are unequivocal in their usage of the year/day principle. Next we’ll look at a further Scripture which all agree must also be interpreted using this year/day understanding.
This prophecy, given to Daniel, has a lot more complex and difficult to comprehend statements to follow (a future article will explore this) but for now we just need to note that every major prophetic school of interpretation agrees that these ‘seventy weeks’ – 490 days – must be figurative of 490 years. Regardless of the different variations of dates, divisions and ultimate interpretation of this passage the overwhelming majority of scholars all unanimously agree that this prophecy, although it does not plainly state it, is using the year/day principle. Only by applying the day for a year principle can this timeline prophecy bring us to the time of the Messiah.
And so, the question must be asked, is the ‘day for a year’ principle used in other prophetic passages? And the answer is a resounding yes! On multiple occasions. All protestant Christian scholars, teachers, students, pastors etc. knew this and applied this reasoning once upon a time. Commentaries and writings from past centuries are filled to the brim with comments and references to the year/day principle in interpreting biblical prophecy. This especially relates to the books of Daniel and Revelation. I do not know whether this method of interpreting prophetic timescales was passed down through the centuries or if dedicated Bible lovers just tried the key to see if it fits – but fit it most surely does.
In both Daniel and Revelation we read of a time period of, ‘a time, times and half a time’ – meaning, one year + two years + half a year. We also read of a time period of ‘forty two months’ and we read of a time period of ‘one thousand, two hundred and sixty days.’ Based on the calendar system of that time (each month having 30 days) these three time periods are in fact all the same length – 1260 days. In Daniel chapter 12 we are given some other very specific timeline prophecies – ‘1290 days’ and ‘1335 days’. And in the book of Revelation we have yet various other timeline prophecies, including: ’10 days’ (Rev 2:10), ‘5 months’, which is equal to 150 prophetic ‘days’ (Rev 9:10), and the astonishingly specific, ‘an hour, a day, a month and a year’, (Rev 9:15). Historicists apply the year/day principle to all of these passages. In so doing there have been some amazingly accurate predictions made in times past and as we reside now at the latter end of the current era these time periods can be seen in past events.
It is not the aim in this brief summary to delve into any of the specific interpretation of these year/day timeline prophecies, you will discover these as you read through our studies on Daniel (pending) and our Revelation Overview, but it is important to know that the ‘day for a year’ key is vital to all historicist interpretation of these timeline prophecies.